photo by Dimir/CC BY-SA 4.0">

Crowning Achievement? Kaan and Turkey's Defense-Industrial Achievements


May 13, 2024

TAI Kaan during runway tests at Ankara TAI Base, Turkey, March 17, 2023, <a href="">photo</a> by Dimir/<a href="">CC BY-SA 4.0</a>

TAI Kaan during runway tests at Ankara TAI Base, Turkey, March 17, 2023

Photo by Dimir/CC BY-SA 4.0

This commentary originally appeared on War on the Rocks on May 13, 2024.

In February 2024, Turkey successfully completed the maiden test flight of its prototype Kaan fighter. The plane's name is taken from an ancient Central Asian royal title, and Turkish media declared that its performance made “the legacy of our ancestors proud.” This then naturally raises the question: is the Kaan really a king of kings or just a pretender to the throne?

Turkey now claims membership of a small, technologically advanced club of countries that have flown a fifth-generation aircraft of their own design: the United States, Russia, and China. It is the culmination of long-term investment in the country's defense technology and industrial base. However, the resulting hype around Kaan is not entirely justified. Turkey relied heavily on foreign support to develop Kaan, undercutting government claims that it is a triumph of indigenous design and raising questions about its ability to progress beyond a prototype.…

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Rebecca Lucas is a senior analyst in defense and security and Stuart Dee is a research leader in defense and security at RAND Europe.

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